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Votes

Budget Debate Begins

Fairfax County Public Schools superintendent Daniel Domenech released the school system's proposed $1.6 billion budget, an increase of 5.6 percent over last year, on Jan. 9. The budget relies on Gov. Mark Warner's (D) pledge not to cut education funding in the state budget and asks the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to provide a 7.9-percent transfer, the amount of the budget paid for by the county. In February the supervisors set a 7-percent transfer, then lowered it to 5.3 percent in late December.

The proposed budget includes a $74.8 million increase in employee compensation and benefits, consisting of a cost of living and step increase totaling 4.6 percent, the addition of a Step 18 to the unified scale and a .5-percent contribution to the employees’ Virginia retirement plan. It does not include any new programs.

There will be several School Board work sessions between now and the adoption of the proposed budget in May. Below is the anticipated schedule. All School Board work sessions and public hearings will begin at 7 p.m., at Luther Jackson Middle School, 3020 Gallows Road, Falls Church. The times for the supervisors' meetings have not been released as yet.

* Jan. 13, School Board work session

* Jan. 21, School Board work session

* Jan. 27, School Board public hearing

* Jan. 28, School Board public hearing, if needed

* Jan. 30, School Board work session

* Feb. 13, FY ‘04 advertised budget adoption

* April 8, budget presentation to the Board of Supervisors, 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax

* April 7-9, supervisors’ public hearing, 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax

* April 28, supervisors set transfer to schools, 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax.

* May 5, School Board work session

* May 12, School Board public hearing

* May 13, School Board public hearing, if needed

* May 15, School Board work session

* May 19, School Board work session

* May 22, School Board adopts FY ‘04 budget

The School Board work sessions and public hearings will be broadcast live on Cox Cable Channel 21.

Citizens wishing to speak at the School Board hearings may sign up by calling 703-246-3646. To speak at the supervisors' hearings, call 703-324-3151.

The complete proposed budget is available on the school system's Web site at www.fcps.edu.